Photo of Evangelyn Alocilja working in the lab

We have two strong research groups in the area of security. The first is the built environment, such as structures and roads. The new Structural Fire Safety Research Lab is recognized both nationally and globally as a uniquely valuable resource within short order. In the information realm we are expanding the existing strong effort in information security (e.g., proving correctness of large, complex codes, and improving network security).

In the News

Nizar Lajnef

Testing stress sensors

MSU Engineering researcher to use Mackinac Bridge as platform for innovative technology

Some engineering professors had an idea to monitor bridges with sensors powered with the vibrations generated by traffic. Think self-winding watch.

Those professors, including one at Michigan State University, think they have mastered the technology. But they needed a real-world platform to try it out.

Enter Bob Sweeney and the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA). Sweeney heard about the developing technology and knew the Mackinac Bridge, because of its status as a transportation icon and modern marvel of engineering, would provide a high-profile test site. 

That's why later this month, Nizar Lajnef, associate professor of civil engineering at Michigan State University (MSU), and professor Shantanu Chakrabartty from Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) will place six of these prototype sensors beneath the bridge.

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By their thumbprints

University Distinguished Professor Anil Jain is identifying children and saving lives 

Every day 353,000 children are born around the world, a majority of them in developing countries where there is a lack of proper record keeping, resulting in a lack of proper health care. By the age of five, more than five million children per year lose their lives to vaccine-preventable diseases.Anil Jain (right) and his team collected 309 fingerprints of children aged 0-5 years over one year to show that state-of-the-art fingerprint capture and recognition technology offers a viable solution for recognizing children.

How can these young lives be saved? By their thumbprint, said University Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Anil Jain at Michigan State University. 

Jain and his team of biometrics researchers demonstrated in a first-of-its-kind study that digital scans of a young child’s fingerprint can be correctly recognized one year later. In particular, the team showed they can correctly identify children 6 months old over 99 percent of the time based on their two thumbprints. A child could then be identified at each medical visit by a simple fingerprint scan, allowing them to get proper medical care such as life-saving immunizations or food supplements. 

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A team of MSU researchers has won a national challenge designed to help make it easier to identify prescription pills, often a major problem for the elderly. Members of the MSU team are (l to r) doctoral student Xiao Zeng; Mi Zhang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and post-doctoral fellow Kai Cao. Photo by Derrick Turner.

Solving pill recognition problems

MSU Engineering researchers win NIH National Challenge to identify prescription pills

Unidentified or misidentified prescription pills is a booming problem, especially among the nation’s elderly, one that can have deadly consequences. 

A Michigan State University engineering professor is doing his part to make that less of a danger. 

Mi Zhang, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the first-prize winner of the National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine Pill Image Recognition Challenge, a national competition designed to develop new methods of automatically identifying pills using mobile phones. 

Zhang and his colleagues were among many teams that created software and algorithms that will contribute to the creation of a system that can match photos taken by a smartphone to high-resolution images of prescription pills.

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Pang-Ning Tan

mHeart app

Sparrow and MSU researchers work on new app to help heart patients stay healthy 

A collaboration between a physician at Sparrow Health System in Lansing and Michigan State University researchers will result in a new mobile app that will allow those at risk of heart disease to monitor what they eat, how they live, and make better choices. 

“We are trying to empower them with this tool in their hand to see how the choices are affecting their risks,” said MSU researcher Pang-Ning Tan, an associate professor of computer science and engineering.

The research is being conducted through the Sparrow/MSU Center for Innovation and Research, a formal partnership between Sparrow and MSU. MSU’s intellectual capital and Sparrow’s community-based clinicians work collaboratively to develop innovative approaches in healthcare. 

Currently in a prototype phase, the app – called mHeart -- will help users make choices about what they eat based on the data they enter about themselves. mHeart will tell them the risks involved in their food decisions. 

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Professor Indrek Wichman

Fire in Microgravity

Research led by mechanical engineering professor Indrek Wichman featured on cover of American Scientist 

In space, flames don’t extinguish under the same low-oxygen conditions that would put them out on Earth, setting the stage for dangerous flare-ups.

The finding is the current cover feature in the national publication, American Scientist, January-February, 2016.

The research is led by Indrek Wichman, a professor in the Michigan State University Department of Mechanical Engineering. The research team also includes: 

  • Sandra L. Olson, a spacecraft fire safety scientist at NASA Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland,
  • Fletcher J. Miller, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at San Diego State University, and
  • Ashwin Hariharan, who received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from MSU, is a thermal systems engineer at Ford Motor Company in Allen Park, Mich.

Wichman said the research described in the article deals with a series of projects on Space Fires he has engaged with NASA from the middle 1990s to the present.

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